Head to the gym, and you'll find people training for weight loss. Others train for hypertrophy and a better beach body. Some train to build strength. But what about power? Are we forgetting what's potentially most important and healthiest?
The type of training you employ could determine your quality of life.
The scientific lowdown
Research analysing almost 4000 men and women (40 years old and up) was presented to the European Society of Cardiology last week, and researchers concluded three important points regarding power training:
- People with muscle power tend to live longer
- For strength training at the gym, most people just think about the amount of weight being lifted and the number of repetitions without paying attention to the speed of execution. But for optimal power training results, you should go beyond typical strength training and add speed to your weight lift
- Doctors should consider measuring muscle power in their patients and advise more power training
Powerlifting versus power training
Powerlifting is a complex yet simple sport with simple math. The goal is to see how strong you are over three lifts – the bench press, squat, and deadlift.
Powerlifters build serious strength required for slow, controlled movements, whereas power training is more about explosion.
Power training is pretty self-explanatory with the goal to increase power (strength and speed). Power dictates how quickly you can apply force to yield the desired movement. Sprinting up a flight of 100 stairs is a "power" move more than it is strength.
Exercises to build power
Almost any exercise with intensity can be utilised as a power movement. Here are some to incorporate into your gym (or outdoor) training sessions:
- Cardio - 100m sprint on the rower, 50 metre sprint, sled push, hill / stair running;
- Core - Medicine ball slams (core), burpees
- Upper Body – Classic or plyometric (hand clap) push ups, alternating bicep curls, upright row into an overhead press
- Legs - Kettlebell swings, single arm clean and press, box jumps, squat throws (CrossFit wall balls), lunge jumps, step ups
Set and reps
Per the scientific study above, researchers suggest choosing multiple exercises for the upper and lower body with a challenging weight.
Perform one-to-three sets of between six and eight, repetitions moving the weight as fast as possible during the concentric phase (muscle contraction) and returning to original position (muscle lengthening – eccentric phase) with a slow to natural speed. Rest for 20 seconds between sets.
Personally, I find that sort of "X sets with Y reps then rest" training boring and tedious. Therefore, I've created…
The Perfect Power Session
Perform push ups, medicine ball slams, alternating bicep curls, kettlebell swings, upright row into an overhead press, and box jumps - 40 seconds of one exercise, rest for 20 seconds, then rotate straight into the next movement. Rest for one minute, and perform three or four total sets. On a piece of paper, record how many repetitions each round with a total reps per workout. Increase power with more repetitions each workout, each week.
Power training – sure, it's discussed with elite athletes but not on trend yet for us normal folks. Drop it into your routine, it could be the future of movement for health, wellness, and longevity.
Inherently, power training makes sense. You don't see older, healthy people stacked with muscle smashing out heavy reps on the bench press; you see them moving (and exercising) with purpose, strength, speed, and power. If they are not in the gym, they are hiking, golfing, and playing tennis – with power.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.